Quick FYI: this site might go dark for a few days sometime in the next week or so as I attempt to do some updates. So don’t panic if you see a (temporary) maintenance screen the next time you stop by.
A few people have asked about the whole 10-year-anniversary meme the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions “movement” has been trying to foist on the media this year.
Unlike the few media outlets that allowed themselves to be led to this narrative, most readers of this blog understand that BDS was born not in 2005 (a birthday that allows the BDSers to attach their project to a “call from Palestinian civil society” – giving it the illusion of grassroots origins) but to the 2001 Durban I Conference that turned the fight against global racism to a fight for bigotry directed at the Jewish state and people.
The notion that “Palestinian civil society” rose up in all its civil societiness and demanded that its economic fate be put into the hands of Omar Barghouti is risible enough. But if BDS was breach-birthed at an international conference led by state actors (as well as NGOs long-corrupted by state actors), this would mean the “movement” represents just the kind of offspring you’d expect if racism mated with state power (which is not the parentage the BDSers would like anyone to consider).
Given that the boycotters are happy to lie about their very origins, is it any wonder that their celebratory communication of this alleged anniversary is also filled with countless fabrications they’ve been spreading around for years?
For example, one correspondent sent me a link to this page that is shooting off verbal fireworks regarding the 100 (count them 100!!!!!) victories of the BDS movement.
One-hundred is one of those numbers people use to establish a narrative of momentum and success. For if it only requires three points to establish a trend in people’s heads (which is why those “three guys walk into a bar jokes are so funny, since they begin to establish this trend in our minds, but then break the pattern just when we’d expect it to be confirmed), 100 examples is supposed to imply that a trend is so well established that double digits will no longer contain it.
But looking over this list, one finds the same examples of deception I’ve debunked on previous non-anniversary “BDS Wins!!!” lists. Starting from their academic success list, can we really take anyone seriously who is still trying to peddle the “Hampshire College becomes the first school in the country to divest from Israel” myth? After all, this story was exposed as a hoax almost as soon as it came out in 2009. Which means that perpetuating it today represents complete delusion or an extreme desire to deceive (coupled with utter contempt for the public they are trying to dupe).
Most of their economic “wins” having to do with large corporations or governments “divesting” from companies like Veolia, G4S or Israel-Africa represent the tried-and-true BDS practice of claiming that other people’s economic decisions were really political. And since no one has ever been able to “Prove It” by providing statements from these allegedly divesting organizations that confirm a political decision was made (the only real proof that political divestment vs. mundane selling of stock took place) we can toss most of that section of their victory sheet into the trash alongside their Hampshire lie.
Now a few other sections are beefier than they were the last time I debunked a BDS brag-sheet. For example, the number of schools where student councils passed divestment resolutions has certainly increased, even if the BDSers still need to go back to Wayne State’s divestment vote in 2003 to stretch their list to 100. But a list containing recent student government wins masks the much larger number of times such votes have gone against them. More importantly, jumping from single to barely double digits of student council “Yes” votes cannot hide the fact that school leaders have shown no interest in following up on such divestment calls (beyond denouncing them).
Similarly, while even I will admit disappointment that the Presbyterian (and now UCC) Churches recently made divestment official policy, the minimal impact these votes have had on our national conversation simply reflects that embrace of BDS has become a symptom of impending institutional death, rather than an example of courage and moral virtue. Oh, and by the way, I wonder when PCUSA (who explicitly said that their divestment decision last year in no way meant they were joining – or even supporting – the BDS movement or its goals) will get around to asking the boycotters to stop including them in their list of friends and allies.
Getting back to that whole 100 thing, keep in mind that creating long lists to prove your point is pretty simple business. My friends at UK Media Watch recently published a BDS Fail list as long as the boycotter’s win list, for example, demonstrating how easy it is to “prove” your point if you are trying to use anecdotal evidence to demonstrate something that is inherently not anecdotal.
For example, if you wanted to really prove BDS success or failure, you would have to determine objective criteria and then amass evidence that went beyond just stories (after sorting out true ones from false, of course).
Economic impact is one such criterion, although that would be a poor choice for the boycotters, given that the Israeli economy has doubled in size during the decade and a half when they’ve been trying to bring it to its knees (and that the Jewish state continues to thrive economically, despite both global downturns and perennial terror wars).
Public opinion turning against the Jewish state is another measure that could be used to establish the success or failure of the “movement.” But if recent legislative action against BDS (passed unanimously by the same type of representative bodies the BDSers have lobbied for years to support their cause) is any indication, political momentum (at least in the US) has turned against divestment enough to lead to wildly successful, bi-partisan legislative action condemning it.
One could look at the struggles outside the US as an indication of public opinion turning against Israel (and Jews in general). But, once again, we should not necessarily assume BDS to be the cause of complex phenomena such as the peril of Jews in France (which is driven more by Islamic militancy and government indifference than by any particular political campaign targeting Israel).
Even Israel’s greatest perils – most recently the specter of a surging Iran – have more to do with geopolitical matters (including a collapsing Middle East order and a feckless US administration) than it does with efforts to vandalize tubs of hummus. So whether we are talking about BDS at 10 or 15, we’re still talking about a canker clinging to the rear end of a wider propaganda war in an era when the states who have been most responsible for that war for generations have much more to fear from their neighbors than they do from perfidious Juden they have never met.